Ankush – A movie review

The distinguishing feature of the movie is neither brutal rape nor gruesome murders not even discourse given by four protagonists in court room but slow degeneration of a generation, bit by bit. Potential criminals are not made in accidental moments of hunger (read Rajesh Khanna’s Roti) or personal revenge (read Agnipath) or concoction of the above (read Deewar) but are byproducts of alienation, unemployment, low societal status working on young psyche bit by bit.

The slow degradation starts when the credits end, showing rivalry over ‘Ganesh Visarjan‘, a popular festival in Maharashtra. Their identity to external world is rooted in their own ‘mohalla‘ (__wadhi ke launde). The gang fights and subsequent victories do not pull them in ‘Alice in Gangsterland’ myth of RGV (those have their own place) but the four loafers still remain in veranda of an empty house where street and home, shadow and sunlight abut. A symbol of being neither in safe, secure, comfortable zone of a house nor anonymous, isolated and mean streets. Each of their families or the absence of it shows lack of support but a spineless elder brother, old age spent mother, elder sister who uses illicit means for income are more of literal readings.

In terms of protagonist’s development they did not become smuggler/criminal of international repute such as V.D. Chauhan in Agnipath. A common element in such mainstream movies of social discourse is transgression. Transgression from rural/town to metro runs parallel with ascendanc of protagonist. (Agnipath, Deewar, Namakhalaal, Muqaddar ka Siqandar. Wrongs to Kalia where done in Bombay but he was still a ‘bhaiyya’ unaccustomed to Bombay ways). Protagonists of Ankush lie within the social laboratory of Bombay mohallas/chawls (locality) in petri dish of the mohalla.

The difference between these four and gangster ‘Sublaya’ and shades of criminality elicit their decadence: saving a girl from eave teasing, hired hands to vacate an illegal tenant, gang rivalry skirmishes to picking up fight in frustrated state of mind to murder.

Another important aspect was protagonist repent illegal means not for ill mother (read Deewar) or confused parentage (read Parvarish) but outcome of their own violent means. They never get steeped into gutter of criminal world and their is no glorification of violence. In essence the tussle between evils of society are not directly mapped to personal revenge and question of what path should be taken is left unanswered just when audience where convinced taking law in one’s own hand is the way to go(unlike Rang De Basanti).

Defining moment for me was when Shashi’s (Madan Jain) brother distances him, Shashi finds relief in the fact that last barrier of family’s respect is removed and his tussle between two worlds of employed middle class salaried men and criminal do-as-you-please is removed for he had been a trishanku all the while.

The role of social worker Manda and her grand mom and their discourses remain aloof from over utilized words of love, peace and non violence and are based on ‘Shradhha’ or trust (please correct me if I am wrong) which need not be about being religious. The debates are terse and clearly avoid hyperbole, action sequences are no novelty just that they do not carry AK47s or pistols always, some of them are quite long drawn. Music does not interfere with the narrative and in fact the prayer adds a lot to what movie tries to convey.

For a first movie N. Chandran showed a lot of maturity which unfortunately he could sustain only till Tezab which carries the same subtext as Ankush.

6 Responses to “Ankush – A movie review”

  1. 1 desh
    2008/03/20 at 12:38 pm

    somehw i relate this movie to Gulzar’s mere apne, maybe the theme is different but byproducts of alienation, unemployment, low societal status working on young psyche bit by bit.is even visible thr…somehw the grandmom here is similar to meena kumari’s role thri cant recollect the movie with the details u have put up, but still remember bits of it.even tezaab had shades of this, although if u remember Sunny Deol’s Arjun, it too carried the angst of the 80’s youth (before Ghayal made it popular)

  2. 2 TheQuark
    2008/03/21 at 7:09 am

    “Shyam aa jaye to kehna chhenu aya thha” in shotgun sinha’s inimitable style.The gully violence was awesome but beyond old age and anti-violence similarity ends between the two ladies. Mere Apne had quite a role for Meena Kumari. Her reminisce of her husband (Deven Varma)was good contrasted with her present.Sunny DeOwl for once did a good movie but it had too much masala and had justification of violence.Tezab was from the same director but had redemption for Anil Kapoor at the end and Chandran lost his mojo after it. ‘Excuse Me’ a boy comedy was made by him and curiosly it was quite a hit. He wanted to cash in by ‘Style’ with same heroes but it went dud.

  3. 3 Sandy
    2008/03/30 at 5:46 pm

    badhiya movie lag rahi cheab to dekhni padegi

  4. 4 Kishore Budha / किशोर बुधा
    2008/08/16 at 11:44 am

    Good observations about the crime film quark… you should develop these ideas further.

  5. 5 TheQuark
    2008/08/17 at 6:05 am

    @Kishore: Thanks, Do share few of your ideas too. Wondering whether any one has treated RGV and his treatment of the gangster myth in Hindi cinema?

  6. 6 Kishore Budha / किशोर बुधा
    2008/08/18 at 12:01 am

    Well… for one. We see a shift in the representation of the gangster in the post 90s films. The gangland has become a shorthand for the free market and in that sense Satya marks a departure. The protaganist is not driven into the crime world due to hunger, poverty, or family honour. Instead he is a crafty, skilled professional, who goes about doing his job in the most professional of manner. In RGVs films, the gangland becomes a metaphor for the old vs the new economy. As new economy brings forth new talent, the old structures are swept away by the sheer ingenuity and cold bloodedness of the characters such as Satya. But then almost in a self-censoring move, RGV gets the protagonist to pay the price for his transgressions from civil, ordered society to the criminal world…We could go on and on. Please do develop your ideas on Ankush further. I would be delighted to read more.

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